Until The River Runs Red

Until The River Runs Red


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

When a film opens with someone telling us she is the only daughter of God, Jesus Christ the second, it is brave. If it manages to justify such a statement in its first few seconds, then it is brilliant. Until The River Runs Red is both.

Chloe lives in the woods, hidden from the world under beds and tables, in car boots, a secret existence. She wanders, stringing chains of shells and skulls and running her hands in the river. Her parents are keeping something from her, even if it's only the arguments they are having.

The balance of it, the pace and sight and sound render it at once firmly-grounded and other-worldly. Watching it, one cannot help but be reminded of White Lightnin', the fictionalised, even mythologised story of Jesco White, the particular mixture of the messianic and the mundane.

Chloe is played by Emma True. She's of distinctive appearance but her movements have an ethereal air, dislocated - it's a tremendous performance. Gillian Bradbury and Andy Gathergood are well balanced as Chloe's parents Kate and Jack, she more convinced of the truth of Chloe's existence than he.

We start to get the sense that something is off from the footage intercut with Chloe's wanderings - forensic officers entering a house, grainy CCTV footage of a shopping centre, a woman wandering through a commercial precinct. Charlotte Donnelly is Cathy, a young mother who has lost her child, seen wandering herself, addressing news cameras when the hunt was fresh. The "home video", featuring Hannah Moss as the younger Chloe, recalls the opening sequence of The Wonder Years, but other parts of it seem more dated - if Chloe was a stolen child, she was taken by itinerants with Irish accents.

It's an uncertain 'was', however. We can guess, infer, assume, but the ending calls several things into question. It's powerful, stunning, the whole film is haunting. At 27 minutes it's long for a short, but nothing is wasted. This is a strong film from writer/director Paul Wright, and since it's a production of the National Film & Television School it's important to note that all the work involved is stellar, indeed, revelatory.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2010
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A mysterious girl claims to be the second coming of Jesus, but why are the police investigating her disappearance?
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Director: Paul Wright

Starring: Emma True, Gillian Bradbury, Andy Gathergood, Charlotte Donnelly, Hannah Moss

Year: 2010

Runtime: 28 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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